China is the world's largest EV market with sales of electric auto's reaching 2.61 million up 70% in 2018 over 2017. This constitutes 4% of the total Chinese market today. China is requiring 10% of total sales to be EV in 2019 and raised to 12% for 2020. In comparison, the US saw EV sales jump 81% for 2018 to a total of 360,000 EVs sold out of a total of 17.2 million auto's sold. Yet the US has only 1 million EVs on the road and the auto industry is projected to spend a mind blowing $255 billion in R&D and Capital for electric models by 2023. Due to high-system cost and low volumes with intense competition EVs in the short run will be unprofitable as OEM's bring the 207 models offered to market. Automakers have hopefully factored these costs into their EV strategies.
The most expensive part of an EV is the battery pack. Current technology held by Tesla has their packs at 250 watts per kilogram and the holy grail is 400 watts per kilogram which reduces the size of the battery by half. How is one to achieve this?
To date, EV battery packs such as Tesla, Nissan or Chevrolet have relied on a production system that causes contamination of the battery surface inside due to auxiliary materials or lubricants that is used in manufacturing. Commercial production of high density low cost batteries has been hindered to date by the current wet process of battery production. Franhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, have created a process for creation of EV battery packs that uses a dry film coating process rather than liquids. The process does not use toxic solvents and is less energy -intensive ending in a cheaper to produce battery pack as much higher density. Quoting Dr. Benjamin Schumm, project manager for IWS, "Our dry transfer coating process aims to noticeably reduce the process costs in electrode coating." Why would this matter one might ask, currently EV battery production is mostly in the asian rim where cheap labor and cheap electricity allows a corner on the market. Trying to manufacture EV batteries in Germany where labor and electricity is some of the highest prices around make EVs expensive. Having a much cheaper, environmentally safer production allows the battery production to be done closer to the assembly line and reduces component costs in transportation also.
With so many breakthroughs in battery technology in the last few years, it would make one think that batteries would be cheaper by now and yet it is the most expensive component of all EVs. So how would this tech be any different as the floor is littered with breakthrough after breakthrough that never made it into commercial production. IWS has been teamed up with a Finnish battery company "BroadBit Batteries" where they have a production line setup using this dry electrode material instead of a wet paste to coat electrodes for battery production. Currently IWS with BroadBits has proven they can coat several meters per minute of battery electrode foil at consistent production speed. BroadBit is currently using this technology to create and sell new Sodium Ion batteries.
Currently an expensive wet complex and toxic paste is applied to the Lithium Ion foil which then requires expensive high energy costs to dry the foil before it can move to the next stage of battery production. IWS dry electrode coating allows foil creation without the ecologically damaging and expensive drying process steps. The result is a much quicker way to create the 100 micrometer thick film onto the aluminum foil creating the battery electrode in a much denser design. Dr. Benjamin Schumm states that this process allows new battery generations where the classic wet process failed and will allow faster and easier development of solid state batteries which uses ion-conducting solids over flammable liquid electrolytes.
This breakthrough in battery production is expected to allow European and Americas manufactures to break the asian strangle hold on battery production for not just EVs but all electronic devices.